Another Bank Unleashes Remote Deposit for the iPhone: Royal Bank America

image Another bank is about to join USAA (post), WV United FCU  (post), and Randolph-Brooks FCU (post) in the smartphone-enabled deposit sphere. Royal Bank America, a $1.3 billion (asset) Philadelphia-area institution, is in final testing of its new deposit-taking iPhone app called RoyalRDC (iTunes link).

image The new app appeared in Apple’s iTunes store on Monday, but currently the bank is accepting only beta testers (see screenshot below). The app, said to be coming “within weeks,” allows a check to be deposited within 30 seconds using any model iPhone.

The bank is currently promoting the benefits of remote deposit on its home page (see screenshot below). Not only can RDC users skip the trip to the branch, they have 2 additional hours to make a deposit for same-day credit (6 PM instead of 4 PM). That’s an enticing additional benefit nicely highlighted through the shaded-clock image below. 

Royal Bank America homepage (7 Jan. 2010)
Note: This is the homepage view after refreshing the page once; yellow highlight is mine.


Royal Bank call for beta testers (link)


Note: For more info on mobile banking on the iPhone, see our March Online Banking Report.

Numbers: Remote Deposit Penetration at Randolph-Brooks FCU

image In an article in today’s Austin Business Journal about the coming launch of mShift-powered mobile remote deposit at Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, the CU revealed its penetration number in its EasCorp-powered, home-scanner-based service, eDeposits:

Total members: 300,000
Total checking account customers: 202,000
% of checking using remote deposit: 5%
Number of remote deposit users: 10,000 (derived)
% of members using remote deposit: 3+% (derived)

The San Antonio, TX-based credit union expects more mobile users than in-home users. The product, which debuted at Finovate on Sep. 29, is currently being tested with employees before it rolls out to select customers.

imageUSAA was the first major financial institution to launch mobile remote deposits in August.  But WV United beat them to market in July earning our OBR Best in the Web award. And this week, speaking at BAI Retail Delivery, Bank of America’s Doug Brown was bullish on the feature, leading many to believe that the giant would add the feature to its mobile offering at some point (see note). And if that happens, it’s not inconceivable the feature could show up in television commercials, either from BofA or Apple.

1. In response to an audience question after his presentation, Brown said that the bank was seeing 1 million envelope-free deposits made at ATMs every day, and “there was an obvious use-case in mobile”. Note that he did not specifically say, or even directly imply, that BofA would launch it, but he also didn’t dismiss the idea. 

Pitney Bowes Goes After Remote Deposit Capture Market with Email to Postage-Meter Clients

image Pitney Bowes (PB) hit me with a cross-sale message this morning, and surprisingly it was for a banking service, remote deposit capture (see email below). Because we already do ACH transactions through PB to load our postage meter, it’s something I would consider buying from them, especially since our business bank does not offer RDC.  

The service called Click Deposit (note 1) works with any bank or credit union checking account and is powered by Jack Henry ProfitStars. The cost runs $39.95 to $149.95 per month, depending on volume. You get up to 150 monthly scans at the lower level and 1,000 at the high end. Buyers must sign a nine-page contract (PitneyBowes_RDC_app.pdf), committing to the service, and leased scanner, for 36 months.

Because I don’t want to lock us in at $500/yr for three years, I think we’ll pass on this deal. Hopefully, we’ll be able to tap a lower-cost iPhone-based service in the near future, such as that offered by WV United FCU (see previous post).  

Email from Pitney Bowes (22 July 2009, 9:36 AM Pacific)


Landing page (link)


1. Although, Jack Henry announced the relationship in May (press release), I found no mention at the main Pitney Bowes site ( or the services site (, so this may be a marketing test.  

Addison Avenue Credit Union Provides Secure VIP Access Powered by VeriSign

image A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to tour the British Museum’s exhibit on the history of money. And one thing that remains the same throughout the millennia, a concern about the security and authenticity of the various objects used to convey wealth.

It’s no surprise that security is the number-one online banking concern of today’s consumer. Had there been market research three thousand years ago, I’m sure security would have been at the top of the list of fears of the Chinese rich enough to hold a cache of cowrie shells (inset).  

imageSo, until we figure out a way to eradicate crime, financial institutions need to address security concerns head-on and provide tools for consumers to take more control (note 1).

That’s what I love about Addison Avenue FCU’s launch of VeriSign’s Identity Protection (VIP) security tokens. Addison Avenue members now have the tools to make their online banking extremely secure, should they desire to. And with set-up charges of $30 to $48 (waived for mobile) and an annual fee of $10 (waived the first year), the program is relatively self-funding (screenshots below).

As an added bonus, the “VIP Access” theme, even though it’s powered by a security vendor, provides a nice boost to member relations. It also gives the CU an iPhone (link to app) and Blackberry presence it wouldn’t otherwise have. 

Addison Avenue e2: The VeriSign program is one leg of a three-part effort dubbed E2, that the credit union launched today (press release; see third and fourth screenshots below).

The three core features:

  • VIP security: as outlined above (link)
  • E-deposit: remote check deposit via basic in-home scanner (link)
  • Mobile banking: mobile web-based (link)

Addison Avenue security key landing page (link, 21 July 2009)
A short informational video brings the service to life.


VIP token options shown on VeriSign’s website


Addison’s three-part “e2” effort is highlighted on its homepage


E2 landing page (from homepage)


1. Granted, most customers are not willing to spend the extra effort to bulletproof their accounts.  So extreme security measures such as this should be optional and carry a nominal extra fee. 
2. For more info on addressing security concerns, see our Online Banking Report on Security Marketing (published in 2005) and our more recent Online Banking Report on New Security Techniques published nine months ago.

WV United Federal Credit Union is First with iPhone-based Remote Check Scan & Deposit

imageIn June, we reported on USAA’s upcoming iPhone app that will support remote check deposits. But it looks like they were beaten to market by tiny WV United FCU headquartered in Charleston, WV. Haven’t heard of WV United? They have just six employees, $11 million in assets, and 3,000 members.

But somehow they were able to pull off something that no other financial institution has yet to accomplish, accepting paper check deposits via a native iPhone application (iTunes link, see note 1 and 2). The application was added to the iPhone App Store on July 4, and the CU wasted no time in heralding the innovation with a homepage banner (see screenshot below).

imageThe application could not be simpler. Users take a picture by pressing the button on the left (see inset), verifying that the image is readable, then uploading with the button on the right. WV United uses the member’s mobile phone number to apply it to the correct account. The latest iPhone OS 3.0 is required.

The credit union also accepts deposits via in-home scanners using secure file transfers powered by LeapFile (co-branded site here).

It appears both services simply send images to the credit union where an employee manually converts them to ACH items. According to the E-Deposit customer agreement, the first 10 items each month are free; a $1 fee per item for the remainder of the month is charged. This allows for collection of a bit of fee revenue from small business members, while enabling most consumers to use it free of charge.

Certainly, fraud possibilities exist. But the CU’s normal deposit-processing controls should mitigate most of the risk (see E-Deposit funds availability policy here). 

Mitek Systems introduced a mobile remote-deposit system last year (post here), but it’s not yet in production at any financial institutions. 

imageAnalysis: Although not a feature that will see widespread usage, mobile check deposits will prove convenient for certain customers, especially mobile small businesses. More importantly, it helps differentiate between online and mobile services.

So, for raising the bar in mobile banking, we are awarding WV United with our first OBR Best of the Web award for 2009 (note 3). In the 12 years we’ve given the award, WV United is by far the smallest financial institution to win. 

WV United FCU homepage with iPhone banner (11 July 2009)


iPhone app landing page (link)


1. Sometimes it’s nice to be small. WV United has six employees total, according to NCUA data. Most large banks would have a project team larger than that just to do the feasibility study on mobile remote-deposit capture.
2. For more info on the importance of iPhone applications for financial services, see our recent full report: Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking via the iPhone.
3. OBR Best of the Web awards are given periodically to companies that pioneer new online and mobile banking features. It is not an endorsement of the company or product, just recognition for what we believe is an important development. WV United is the 74th recipient of the designation since we began awarding it in 1997.

Failure to Launch? Consumer Remote Deposit Posts Very Slow Growth

image_thumb10_thumb2Two-and-a-half years after USAA was first to offer remote deposit capture to consumers via standard scanners (post here), it appears the technology has failed to gain much of a following outside business circles (notes 1,2).

Quoted this month in Digital Transactions magazine (PDF here, pp. 58-62), John Leekley, founder of, estimates that only 75,000 consumers (and apparently 1 cat, see inset) use the service, less than 0.001% of all U.S. households.

Some other numbers from the article by Jane Adler:

  • After 14 months, EasCorp, a CUSO out of Burlington, MA, has just 24,000 registered users across its 30 credit union installations, or 800 per CU (see previous post)
  • Other EasCorp metrics:
    • Average deposited check = $900
    • Average deposits per session = $1,200
    • Total amount deposited in past 14 months = $80 million
    • At $900 per item, that amounts to about 90,000 checks processed, or about 4 per end-user
    • Cost per deposit for CU clients is $0.25 per item for “higher volume” customers
  • The initial experience at First Command Bank is more encouraging: Since launching in November, First Command Bank has registered 1,600 users for its Deposits on Command across its online customer base of 65,000, for a 2.5% penetration rate (note 3). First Command has a total of 85,000 customers online and offline, so the overall penetration rate is about 2%.
    • Total remote deposits per month are 1,200; slightly under 1 per registered user per month
    • There is no fee for the service, but you must be an estatement user or have an investment account to qualify. Daily deposit limit = $5,000

First Command Bank homepage (14 April 2009)
Remote deposit capture (Deposit on Command) is one of two items that rotate in the top banner-ad slot  image_thumb1_thumb1

1. We are referring here to CONSUMER remote deposit, not to be confused with the very successful business remote deposit.
2. In the same article, Fiserv was cited as projecting growth to 1 million users by the end of 2009, although there was no indication as to when the prediction was made or whether it included business users.
3. If Bank of America had similar usage, it would be well on its way towards 1 million registered users (625,000).
4. Photo from CheckFree/Fiserv

EFT Network Inc. Launches Remote Deposit Capture via Fax

imageRemote deposit capture (RDC) via mobile phone has to be the coolest way to make paper checks disappear from your office and reappear in your account. But from a usability standpoint, it leaves something to be desired, limiting its appeal to geeks with a check to deposit every once in a while. 

Businesses with several checks or more every week need something more convenient and easy to use. Proprietary scanners connecting to PC-based software apps work well, but require installation and training, not to mention $30+ per month in service fees.

image Enter FAXTellerPLUS, a new solution from Hawthorn, NY-based EFT Network, that uses the common fax machine for the input mechanism. The bank runs the software on its end freeing the user to get back to their business once the fax transmits.

Today’s press release says the four banks using the system are processing “thousands of transactions per month.”

How it works:

  1. Bank sends customers a special sleeve that holds up to 3 checks to be transmitted and includes info on the customer so deposit can be directed to the correct account.
  2. Customer transmits the check (front and back) to the bank via standard fax machine.
  3. Bank sends confirmation back to customer via fax or email.
  4. Funds are deposited in customer’s account and images viewable online.

If this works as billed, it could put RDC into the hands of micro- and small-businesses as well as consumers with access to fax machines at home or work. If any readers have used or tested the system, please let me know your experience by commenting here or emailing.

Digital Federal Credit Union and Four Others Offer Consumer Remote Deposit Capture Through EasCorp

VIP Deposit from Sharon Credit Union USAA is no longer the only financial institution offering consumers the ability to deposit paper checks from the comfort of home using standard home scanning technology (see previous coverage here).

image Through DepoZip, a new offering from Massachusetts-based corporate credit union, EasCorp, five northeastern credit unions have recently begun offering remote deposit capture services for their members. In addition, Austin, TX-based Randolph-Brooks FCU is slated to launch it later this spring.

According to its published prices, the cost is $15,000 to implement the program ($5,000 for the license and $10,000 for training), then $100/mo plus $0.40 per active user plus $0.01 per its plus applicable image processing fees which range from $0.03 to $0.14 per item. Compared to manually handling deposits at the teller window, that’s a bargain. 

The service was piloted beginning in August last year and launched in November at Sharon Credit Union (see inset image) and Hanscom Federal Credit Union. The latest to roll it out is 300,000 member Digital Federal Credit Union. 

Company HQ Size Service Name Launch Date
Sharon CU Sharon, MA $590 mil assets VIP Deposit (Virtual Item Processing) Nov 2007
Hanscom FCU Bedford, MA $280 mil assets Easy Deposit Nov 2007 (pilot began Aug 2007)
Service CU Portsmouth, N.H. $1 billion assets   Dec 2007
Paragon FCU Montvale, NJ $390 mil assets
62,000 members
eDeposit Jan 2008
Digital FCU Marlborough, MA 320,000 members; 150,000 banking online PC Deposit Feb 2008
(2000 members enrolled in first 3 weeks; pilot began Aug 2007)
Randolph-Brooks FCU San Antonio, TX $3 billion assets
250,000 members
  coming in late spring

Deposit Paper Checks via Mobile Phone?

imageimageJudging by the title and the date of this post,  you might think it a prank.

But no, Mitek Systems has actually developed software that lets you deposit paper checks by taking their picture with your mobile phone and transmitting the images to your bank. The company has a good demo of the service on the product page.

The company first demo'd it to bankers at BAI's Transpay in early February (press release here). I wasn't there but I heard it was a must-see on the trade show floor.

Here's how it works:

  • Call up the app on your phone (first-time users would need to download the app from the bank)
  • Log in
  • Enter the amount of the check
  • Take a photo of the front of the check
  • Wait for the software to optimize the photo
  • Take a photo of the back of the check
  • Wait for the software to optimize the photo
  • Transmit it to the bank
  • Receive a confirmation message from the bank

I'll admit, I didn't see this one coming. And I still can't decide if it's a good idea. On the one hand, it's cool and innovative and allows you to do something on your mobile that you really can't do on your PC (although a digital camera hooked to your PC could do the same thing). I could imagine a smaller service business with just a couple checks per month using it. The photo documentation of the deposited check would be handy to have and a dedicated check scanner is too pricey (note 1).

But for consumers? Not many would go through this much trouble to deposit a check. It would be easier to drop it in an ATM, the mail, or walk it into their branch during lunch hour. And no major business can use it. Biz owners don't want their bookkeepers snapping photos of customer checks with their Razr. 

If you have a massive tech budget, it might be worth the cost to demonstrate that you are the leading innovator in your market. Or if your mobile banking vendor can deliver this capability within a larger mobile banking system for little or no extra cost, give it some thought.

But if your are already behind on your 2008 plan, your budget fits on the display of an eight-digit calculator, or you are still haven't gotten around to creating an iPhone button for your bank, this is not the project for you.

Let me know what you think.  


1. CheckFree or USAA's system using existing home scanners might work better for most small- or micro-businesses.

Playing the Environmental Card with Remote Deposit Capture: Green Calculator from BankServ

imageWhile you don't want to overdo it and look like a hypocrite (see note 1), there's nothing like a little green to spruce up your marketing this time of year. BankServ lets users see just how much they can save by uploading checks to the bank over the Net instead of hightailing over to the branch in their Hummer (note 2).

In my case, I'm only going to save a half barrel of oil per year by forgoing those branch visits. Less, if it ever stops raining and I can get back to biking to the branch. It sounds more impressive in terms of CO2 emissions saved: 200 pounds.

It's a nice tool. Financial institutions could also use similar calculators to show the green benefits of paying bills online, receiving electronic statements, or anything else that cuts down on waste.

Note the URL:

BankServ fuel saving CO2 calcultor


1. The term is new to me, but my friends over at Javelin Strategy blogged about greenwashing this week. In short, it means misleading consumers about the extent of your eco-friendly practices.

CheckFree to Enable In-home Remote Check Deposits for Consumers and Small Businesses

Link to USAA's Bank@Home Although, remote deposit capture has captured a significant share of larger businesses, consumers have had fewer options:

  • USAA has offered in-home scanning, called Deposit@Home, for more than a year (previous coverage here), but its customer base is limited to current and retired members of the military.
  • DepositNow, a unit of BankServ, allows anyone to use remote deposit services, but it's geared towards businesses and costs at least $29/mo, far above what consumers or even smaller businesses will pay.
  • A number of banks also make it available to small businesses and the very wealthy, but consumer rollouts have been nonexistent. The cost of a dedicated scanner makes it uneconomical for the mass market.

checkfree_logo CheckFree aims to change that with a new service targeted to consumers and very small businesses (press release here). The key is using existing consumer scanners and multi-function printers. USAA has proven that this technology does indeed work, so we expect CheckFree's service will pass technical hurdles.

It's hard to predict consumer demand, but given that around 20% of U.S. households maintain a full- or part-time business endeavor, we expect strong demand if the price is reasonable and technology is extremely easy to use.

Remote deposit services could be used as the cornerstone of a premium online banking offering (note 2) attractive to microbusiness (note 1) owners and consumers who still receive paper checks a few times per month.


  1. We define a microbusiness as one with $50,000 or less in annual revenue, typically a part-time, home-based business. For more information see Online Banking Report #107/108: Small and Microbusiness Banking Online.
  2. See Online Banking Report #109 for ideas on how to create a premium online banking channel.

Remote Deposit Sightings: Wall Street Journal & PNC Bank

It takes a long time before a new process or technology becomes "conventional wisdom," something that is accepted at face value without questioning its pros and cons. While we are still years away from that happening with remote deposit technology, at least the mainstream press has picked up on its benefits, one of the first steps towards mass adoption.

The latest example was in today's Wall Street Journal special Small Business section. In "Branching Out," a general article on banks' growing interest in small businesses, author David Enrich prefaced an Aite Group "levels the playing field" quote with this (p. R6):  

Remote deposit makes it less important to select a bank based on its location or number of branches–which many big banks tout as a key selling point.

The key take-away here is that banks should make sure remote deposit services are prominently featured in checking/cash management offers aimed at attracting new business clients. 

Google search on remote deposit capture CLICK TO ENLARGE For example, PNC Bank is currently running a remote deposit promotion with a free scanner for customers who sign up before the end of April (see landing page screenshot below). The service is powered by Bankserv (PNC data sheet here;

The promotion is well-placed on Google, with the fourth-highest AdWords placement giving PNC the top-right slot (see inset).

However, neither the promotion or remote deposit are mentioned on the bank's main business checking account marketing page (see second screenshot below). We like the promotion, the first we've seen advertising a free scanner via Google, but the bank seems to be missing the chance to grab new accounts with the freebie.  

PNC Bank landing page from Google search on "remote deposit capture"
(Seattle IP address, 19 March 2007, 9 AM PDT)

PNC Bank landing page from Google search on "remote deposit capture"

PNC Bank main business checking page (19 March 2007)

PNC Bank main business checking page (19 March 2007)